Angler Info.

WHEN IS FISHING THE BEST?

The following is a list of hatches and when we feel is the best time to fish them:

APRIL (SKWALLA HATCH ON THE BIG HOLE RIVER)

During the month of April we normally start to see the first dry fly action of the season. On cloudy days there are Blue Winged Olives on both the Big Hole and Beaverhead Rivers, and by the middle of April you can bet that Skwallas have started on the Big Hole. This spring-time stone is one of the most rewarding hatches of the year, as you get to fish a size 10 dry fly on 2X to a fish that has not seen a fake fly since November.

Spring fishing is some of the best of the season as low boat traffic and hungry fish couple to bring you possibly the highest hook up rate of any month of the year. If you’re looking to get away for spring break, need a quick fishing trip to help shake the cob webs of old man winter, or just want to experience Montana fly fishing in a month many anglers do not get to see, then April is your time. Recommended Skwalla dates: April 10 – 30

MAY (CADDIS AND SEASON OPENER)

The Mother’s Day Caddis hatch is legendary on many western rivers, and it is no different here in Southwest Montana. The Big Hole, Beaverhead, and Ruby Rivers produce Caddis hatches that make the water look as if it is boiling as fish rise to nab the protein packed flies off the surface. Caddis takes are often quick and violent making the fisherman’s heart quicken in pace and liven the spirit. Some of the best caddis action of the year happens before the third Saturday in May, which is Montana’s general fishing season opener. Some water that is off limits to guided fishing during the summer due to regulations, is open to fish and will produce some of the most memorable days ever spent on the water.Recommended Caddis dates: May 5 – May 18

When the third Saturday in May rolls around, the famed section of the Upper Beaverhead River will see plenty of pressure. Fishing the Upper Beav on opening day is like Christmas morning for a lot of anglers. After months of waiting, one is anxious to see what sort of monster Brown or Rainbow trout has manifested itself in the river this season. We do not recommend fishing opening weekend as the crowds are sometimes too much to take, but you can bet we will be there the Monday after the opener.Recommended Opener Dates: May 21 – 31

JUNE (SALMON FLIES AND GOLDEN STONES)

The most popular hatch in our area has got to be the Salmon Fly hatch. This larger than life stone fly starts to show itself around June 13 every year. Some years yield Salmon flies a little earlier, and some years they are a few days late, but on average the few days surrounding the 13th is Salmon Fly time on the Big Hole River. The hatch sees a good bit of pressure from anglers all over the world, and can be one of the busiest times of the year on the Big Hole. However, as the hatch moves up river one can usually get a day or two of excellent dry fly fishing as we toss size 4 dry flies into the bank in search of violent takes and feisty fish. Golden Stones start to show up a week or so later, and will sometimes come off into the middle part of July. Golden Stone fishing after the main hatch can be better than the main Salmon Fly hatch at times, and you also avoid lower pressure once the “big bugs” are done with their bi-annual cycle. Recommend Salmon Fly and Golden Stone Dates: June 13-30

JULY (PMD’S AND SALLY’S)

When July rolls around you can almost bet that our yearly run off will be over and the longer lasting PMD and Yellow Sally hatches will start showing up. The Beaverhead River will see its highest pressure of the year, but for good reason. The upper stretches of the Beav will be loaded with fish stacking up in feeding lanes gorging on PMD and Sally nymphs like they have not eaten in years. Lots of flies are lost to these fish during the month of July, and the many landed are fish of a lifetime. July is the best all around month of fishing on the Beaverhead River. Recommended Beav Dates: July 10-31

The Big Hole is possibly the best pure dry fly fishery in the United Sates. For years anglers have come to fish the Big Hole in July to take advantage of the numerous hatches this amazing river produces. Caddis, PMD’s, Yellow Sally’s, Green and Brown Drakes, Golden Stones, BWO’s and a few early hoppers open up a treasure chest of possibility for the dry fly enthusiast. We spend numerous hours on the Big Hole in July, and wish there were more days than 31 in this month in which to fish.Recommended Big Hole Dates: July 1-31

AUGUST (TERRESTRIALS AND CRANEFLIES)

Maybe the hidden gem when it comes to fishing time in Montana. Many anglers have come and gone on their summer vacations and fishing trips, and water that is a little less crowded starts to yield the most visual fishing of the year. Hoppers, ants, beetles, and a few other Terrestrial life forms are out in force, and as the summer winds down and the meadow grasses dry up, you’ll start to see these exciting bugs right next to river. In result, hungry fish will be lurking below waiting to explode on any unlucky fly blown into the river. Violent takes, big flies, and fat fish are three qualities that come with hopper fishing.Recommended Hopper Dates: August 7-31

Skating Craneflies can be the most exciting freshwater trout fishing an angler can do. It’s a combination of streamer fishing and dry fly fishing that produces the most violent take ever seen on a dry fly. These larger than life bugs (they look like a mosquito on steroids) come off at both dawn and dusk, and on cloudy conditioned days in late August. I can say for certain that Cranefly season is the most anticipated few weeks of the year for all of us at TLA. As a retired Outfitter said to me last year as we fished the Cranefly hatch, “As far as I’m concerned, this is the only way to ever fish for trout.” If you’re a streamer junkie, or a dry fly enthusiast, Cranefly fly fishing is a step above anything you’ve ever experienced.Recommend Cranefly dates: August 15-31

SEPTEMBER (HOPPERS, CRANEFLIES, BWO’S)

We call this our “mixer month.” As September rolls around we see our first few frosty mornings as temperatures begin to drop below freezing during the night, changing the colors of the leaves on the Cottonwood Trees. Most of the main hatches have come and gone, but a few Mayflies and small Stoneflies remain. With their summer food sources gone until next season, trout move into a feeding pattern that is characterized as “opportunistic.” During the month of September one can expect to fish nymphs, dry flies, and streamers as fish move between feeding patterns. On cloudy days the first hatches of fall Blue Winged Olives can be seen and fish tend to pod up and feed in great regularity on the last big hatch of the season. Brown Trout begin to prepare for their yearly spawn, and males tend to become very aggressive and will attack and chase any fly that gets too close to his personal space. September is a fantastic month to experience Montana in all her fall beauty while in search of wild Montana Trout. Recommended “Mixer” Dates: September 8-30

OCTOBER (FALL SPAWN)

If you want a chance to truly tie into the biggest fish of the season, or perhaps the biggest fish of your career, October is your month. The Brown Trout spawn is in full force and the big males who lurk the depths all summer become vulnerable during this annual ritual. Two seasons ago during this last week of October, a guest of ours landed the two biggest trout of his life two days apart. Both Brown Trout, one male and one female, were taken on a streamer pattern two days apart. The female measured out at 26” and 8 lbs, while the male stretched the tape to just over 28” and over 10 lbs. If you’re looking for the opportunity to land the biggest fish of the season, love to fish streamers, enjoy less crowded rivers, and wish to fish in some of the most beautiful country you’ll find in the lower 48, October is your month.Recommended October Dates: October 15-31